EU says May resignation changes nothing in Brexit talks
The European Union said Friday that Prime Minister Theresa May’s resignation does nothing to change its position on the Brexit withdrawal deal that its members agreed with Britain.
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker noted May’s decision “without personal joy,” a spokeswoman said, adding that the council of EU leaders has “set out its position” on the Brexit deal.
Some of the candidates to replace May as leader of the Conservative Party and thus prime minister have said they would seek to change the terms of the divorce deal she negotiated.
But commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told reporters that the other 27 EU leaders had approved the deal as it stands and that there are no plans to re-open its terms.
As has long been the case, Brussels could envisage modifying a non-binding political declaration that accompanies the Brexit treaty to flesh out ambitions for future EU-UK ties.
But the withdrawal agreement, which May tried and failed three times to get past the British parliament, is not up for renegotiation, Andreeva said, reiterating the EU stance.
Juncker, she said, “very much liked and appreciated working with Prime Minister May and, as he as said before, Theresa May is a woman of courage for whom he has great respect.
“He will equally respect and establish working relations with any new prime minister, whoever they may be, without stopping his conversations with Prime Minister May,” she said.
“Our position on the Withdrawal Agreement and anything else has been set out by Margaritis yesterday. There is no change to that,” she added, referring to chief EU spokesman Margaritis Schinas.
On Thursday, Schinas had told reporters: “Our position is clear: the divorce agreement, the withdrawal agreement, cannot be reopened, cannot be renegotiated.
“The European Council has included in its conclusions several sentences which say that the political declaration can be reviewed if and as long as it does not undermine the spirit of the agreement.”
Separately, the EU official who negotiated the agreement with May, Michel Barnier tweeted: “I would like to express my full respect for @theresa_may and for her determination, as Prime Minister, in working towards the UK’s orderly withdrawal from the EU.”